If I do not laugh, I wither.

Oh, I am so starting to understand this about myself: when my day, or my week is a low one without obvious reason, I can trace it to laughter. Or lack of it.

I ask myself whether I have laughed, or whether I have heard much laughter, during that window of time.

When the answer is, “No. No I have not,” that usually explains it.

Further, I understand this: I don’t actually need to be laughing to feel the rush of endorphins laughter brings; hearing the laughter of others makes me feel really good. And, as a side benefit, makes me laugh, too.

For example, it has never angered me to be awakened at night when my children are laughing together. It makes me giggle, and I usually get back to sleep.

All my greatest experiences in life have included laughter. Even exceptional experiences, if devoid of laughter, failed to leave behind the imprint that makes possible a lifelong recollection.

I just saw a video of One Republic’s I Lived. It is full of imagery of those who live large, who run after adventure and seize every available moment to “go and do.” And it was moving, yet difficult to watch without crying. Because until recently, I’ve done nothing deliberately to experience the world, and I felt I had missed out on decades of living.

But no, that isn’t the truth.

My living…my authentic, “I swear, I lived” is to be able to look behind me and see all the memories and experiences that were tied to laughter — laughing with someone, or enjoying the laughter I heard — and live them again by giggling about them anew.

©Aja Hart, 5.31.2016